How Kenya Now Leads The World In Enabling Contract Cheating

My research into contract cheating, dating right back to when I first publicised the threat this poses to academic standards in 2006, has identified worldwide hot spots of individuals enabling contract cheating. These hot spots are international locations with essay mill companies and individual writers keen to make money by helping other people to cheat. They also represent locations where the income from enabling contract cheating is very good by local standards.

I mentioned the countries where contract cheating enabling is prevalent, such as Kenya, India and Pakistan, in this 2016 article for The Guardian. Indeed, I witnessed the growth of the essay writing industry in Kenya between 2006 and 2016, as evidenced, for instance in these 2016 slides, where I showed that the people bidding to complete low level academic work on Freelancer.com were coming mainly from India, Kenya, Pakistan and Morocco.

Contract Cheating Writers Based In Kenya

My recent paper looking at the ghost writers working internationally in the contract cheating industry found that the majority of writers for contract cheating companies were based in Kenya. The real percentage may be higher than I found, as some workers seemed to be disguising their location, perhaps pretending they were in a country their essay buyers would consider more desirable, such as the United States.

The Chronicle of Higher Education also explored contract cheating in Kenya, demonstrating what big business this type of work had become in a country where poverty is common.

In every apartment building in Nairobi, you could find two, three writers.

The Chronicle source too found writers told not to reveal that they were from Kenya and to instead pretend they were British or American. The fact that many essay mills really use writers from Kenya is a (not so well hidden) secret in the essay industry.

Academic Writing Work In Kenya Is Often Low Paid

Chloe Walker presenting at Plagiarism Across Europe 2017

I’ve previously mentioned Chloe Walker’s ongoing research into contract cheating in Kenya.

Chloe has still to formally publish her findings, but her work has explored the legitimate feel of the contract cheating industry in Kenya. That is, the participants think of their jobs as providing a service of value, not as helping people to cheat. They see themselves as working as academic writers.

The money is also good. Even writers earning as little as $2 to $3 USD per essay still look at this as being a better income than the level of money they could earn in another job.

That is, if they can get another job at all.

Kenya is a country with 35% youth unemployed. This has led to estimates from both Chloe and the Chronicle of 20,000 people in Kenya being employed as academic writers (with many more working from home to produce other types of writing, or having involvement in the wider Gig Economy).

For those at the upper levels, the rewards can be much greater. The Chronicle article shows one business, essentially a writer who subcontracted work to four trainees, earning up to $14,000 USD from contract cheating per month. That’s a figure not to be sniffed at anywhere in the world.

The situation in Kenya is not helped by corruption at the highest levels of society. In 2016, MPs in Kenya were told that they had to hold degrees before the next election (in 2017). This ruling was subsequently scrapped after it was found that it had led to MPs buying their degrees rather than putting in the work needed to gain academic qualifications legitimately.

Social Media Is Used Heavily In The Academic Writing Industry In Kenya

Getting to work as an academic writer really is a job that is in demand in Kenya. So much so that people will pay for the opportunity.

In this post, I discussed the Facebook groups selling accounts working for contract cheating providers to people who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible. One Facebook group has 1289 ads in it. Many of those both selling and buying accounts are based in Kenya.

There are private groups discussing the latest tricks to get ahead providing academic writing services that are much bigger. I’ve found a Facebook group which is “strictly for Kenyan writers only” with over 100,000 members and over 300 posts a day. Numbers like these make it look as though the number of people now employed as academic writers in Kenya may well have expanded well beyond the 20,000 figure previously discussed.

Example of a private Facebook group aimed at academic writers in Kenya with over 100,000 members

You can even find whole web sites aimed at people in Kenya keen to make money telling them how to get started as academic writers (and often selling their own guides and account set up services to take advantage of those people who are already desperate). These use such statements as:

It’s no longer a secret that many freelance writers in Kenya are now reaping big in academic writing.

Another uses typical marketing techniques designed to remove objections, in this case eliminating concerns about vocabulary that even native English speaking students would never use:

Must I know hard English words like despot, fractious, inveterate and such like tough words?

Some sites promote this essay writing work as a “side hustle“.

I won’t link directly to sites such as these, but they are very easy to find, as are the many classified ads aimed at recruiting academic writers from Kenya.

The Messages About The Workers For Contract Cheating Companies In Kenya

We need to be alert about where the push for contract cheating is coming from.

It is international in focus, particularly from countries such as Kenya, where contract cheating appears to be an important contributor to how many individuals there are able to survive.

It is a highly competitive industry that won’t go away on its own.

That is why we see such heavy social media promotion of cheating opportunities to students, spamming techniques, as well as attempts by individuals to blackmail students who use their services.

There is still a need for formal academic research about contract cheating in Kenya (and other countries), looking from the points of view of providers, students and other stakeholders.

I have a research paper idea relating to contract cheating in Kenya in mind. I’m looking forward to seeing more about what Chloe Walker (and others) have been working on.

Contract Cheating in Canada – Presentation From The International Day Of Action Against Contract Cheating

Wednesday 17 October 2018 marked the third International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. This international series of events, designed to raise awareness and promote academic integrity, has got bigger every year.

I was thrilled to join the activity taking place at the University of Calgary, led by Sarah Eaton, to deliver a short opening keynote address for the event they held. Alas, I only joined remotely, so I didn’t get to visit, but I’m sure that will come in the future.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


Being a short presentation, I focused mainly of awareness raising, including examples of the scale of contract cheating in Canada and specific activity around Calgary. I also looked at the wide range of activity taking place as part of the International Day of Action, much of which is inspirational.

It is great to see so much attention being paid to the challenges raised by academic outsourcing.

Buy A PhD – Essay Mills And Contract Cheating Pricing (Infographic)

How much does it cost to buy a full PhD thesis from an academic ghost writer or an essay mill?

This infographic illustrates how much it would cost to buy a PhD of around 75,000 words.

The PhD pricing is based on the PhD providers I discussed in this post. There, you can find out more about the problem of original PhD theses available for sale on the Internet.

It is harder to fake your way to a PhD qualification than just a bachelor’s degree. You also have to plan to successfully complete a viva, or find some way of cheating the system to get away without this. Although some companies do offer training for this, it’s likely to involve an additional expense.

Some countries make the viva process even tougher by requiring the PhD to defended in public, in front of an open audience. This puts much of the burden of ensuring that the candidate is prepared back on the supervisor, as it would reflect badly on the supervisor if they sent an ill-prepared candidate out in this public setting. Perhaps the public defence approach is one that needs to be more widely considered in light of the PhD mills?

Who Writes The Assignments For Our Students? Presentation From Plagiarism, Ethics, Pedagogy and Practices 2018

I was invited to accept the prime speaking slot at the Plagiarism, Ethics, Pedagogy and Practices 2018 conference, held in Stockholm, Sweden in August 2018. This conference is supported by URKUND and has been running for a few years now, although it is the first time I’ve been able to attend.

I took the opportunity to share what I know about the writers and other individuals who are working for essay mills and keeping the contract cheating business running. Previously on the blog, I’ve looked at the type of individuals taking essay mill writing jobs. I’ve done a lot more research since and have some papers going through review in this area, so this talk allowed me to give an updated overview, including 12 things you should know about academic writers for essay mills.

The slides I used are available on my SlideShare account. They are also included below.


With the essay industry becoming such a complex beast, the reasons why writers join the business remain varied. For many, it is a low paid profession, but still one that is desirable, with the opportunity to work from home on a flexible schedule. It remains a fascinating area.

Buy An Essay – Essay Mills And Contract Cheating Pricing (Infographic)

How much does it cost to buy an original bespoke essay from an essay mill or other contract cheating provider?

The cost can vary substantially, even though many essay mills work with the same pool of writers, or at least workers with very similar backgrounds and experience.

This infographic illustrates the range of prices a prospective student would come across when looking to purchase a 2000 word essay.

The pricing, correct as of August 2018, is wide ranging. At the bottom end of the market, workers in the equivalent of essay factory “sweat shops” are expected to toil away for just £3 GBP ($4 USD) (see slide 42 of the link). At the so-called top end, there are companies who won’t even start looking at an essay before a payment of £800 GBP ($1057 USD) is received (source https://www.academicghostwriting.com/costs).

A typical service with UK offices asks for £279 GBP ($369 USD), although there are ways to further discount that price (source https://www.ukessays.com/quote.php).

In one of my own experiments, I connected directly with writers and found that most wanted £15 GBP ($20 USD) to complete the work. Had I proposed a lower price point, I’m sure that the quotes I received would also have been lower. And the typical £15 offer I received is still much more than the writer could expect to end up with had they worked with an essay mill taking their cut.

What About Buying A Dissertation?

Everything about the essay industry is negotiable. Here, for example, an essay mill original quoted a nursing dissertation price at £870 GBP ($1148 USD), but proposed a new price of £600 GBP ($792 USD) when the customer wavered only slightly.

Further discounting would have been possible. As my previous analysis has shown, essay mills pay huge referral bonuses for those affiliates bringing in new customers (see slide 53 of the link). This makes it clear that essay mills have lots of movement on pricing. This still leaves room for them to profit, even after they have paid their writers – an amount for the writer which often works out as a tiny percentage of the amount that the essay mill is paid.

Even though students may pay more (and take on the risk of being scammed or blackmailed) the cost of hiring an essay writer directly is low. Setting assessments that are not easy and cheap to outsource, those “bread and butter” type requests that contract cheating providers love such as basic business assignments and marketing assignments, is of importance for the continued integrity of education.

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